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accountants and bookkeepers

How to Become a Freelance Accountant

With the job market constantly changing, some professionals are choosing the freedom and flexibility of freelance work over traditional, office-based roles. 

If you're thinking about transitioning your career and want to know how to become a freelance accountant or bookkeeper, you've come to the right place. In this article, we will look into what freelance accounting entails, including how to set yourself up as a freelancer. 

What Does Freelance Accounting Entail?

As a freelance accountant, your main clients will typically be small businesses, startups and self-employed individuals who need financial assistance without the expenses of hiring an in-house accountant. Your responsibilities will cover many tasks, including:

  • Managing payroll to ensure that employees are paid accurately and promptly.
  • Submitting tax returns for your clients.
  • Compiling and filing accounts by gathering and submitting financial statements and tax returns.
  • Budget analysis to assist clients in managing their income and expenditure
  • Financial auditing, including the review and verification of financial information for accuracy.
  • Representing Clients while handling interactions with the ATO, including filing tax returns or addressing inquiries.

As a freelance accountant, you'll provide support to small businesses, startups and self-employed individuals by managing payroll, preparing tax returns, filing accounts, analysing budgets, conducting audits and representing clients to the ATO.

Freelance Bookkeeping Versus Accounting

A lot of freelance accountants also provide bookkeeping services to increase their income. Accountants generally offer a wider range of services, while becoming a self-employed bookkeeper will allow you to focus more on maintaining accurate financial records for businesses. 

Their responsibilities include managing payments, keeping track of receipts, organising invoices and ensuring accurate documentation of financial transactions. Typically, bookkeepers compile all the financial records and prepare accounts up to the trial balance stage before accountants take over for more complex financial tasks.

Although formal qualifications are not always necessary to work as a bookkeeper, having recognised credentials from institutions like the Australian Bookkeepers Network (ABN) or the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) can help attract clients and demand higher rates. 

How to Set Up as a Freelance Accountant

Transitioning into the world of freelance accounting requires careful planning and execution. Let’s go through the key steps of setting up as a freelance accountant:

1. Get Qualified

Make sure you have the required qualifications or work towards obtaining them. Consider pursuing certifications such as the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification, which is often seen as a minimum requirement for qualified accountants. If your goal is to work with international clients, additional qualifications like those offered by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) may be necessary to approve global accounts legally.

2. Determine Your Professional Offering

Decide on the specific accounting services you intend to provide. While offering general accounting services across various industries is an option, specialising in a particular niche can help you develop industry-specific expertise and make yourself more appealing to potential clients.

3. Think About Pricing

Set your prices by taking into account factors such as your qualifications, experience and range of services offered. You can choose between traditional hourly rates or package your services into monthly retainers, providing clients with more predictable costs.

4. Secure the Right Insurance

Considering the nature of your work, acquiring professional indemnity insurance is a must. This type of insurance can safeguard you in case you face accusations of providing incorrect advice that leads to financial losses for your clients. Having insurance offers a safety net against potential legal disputes and financial liabilities.

5. Fulfil Your Legal Responsibilities

In Australia, it is a requirement for accounting and bookkeeping service providers to be registered with recognised regulatory bodies like the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB)

6. Create an Online Presence

In today's digital era, it's important to have a strong online presence to attract clients. Create a professional website that showcases your qualifications, experience, client testimonials and contact details. Make sure to maintain consistency by extending your branding and messaging across your social media profiles. Actively participating in relevant LinkedIn groups and discussions can further enhance your profile visibility. 

For more information have a look at our guide digital marketing for accountants & accounting firms.

7. Build a Professional Network

Make use of your existing network by reaching out to former employers, colleagues and contacts to inform them about your freelance accounting venture. Previous employers might consider hiring you for temporary assignments or referring you to others who are seeking accounting services. Internships and work experience can also be valuable for making important connections. 

8. Choose the Right Accounting Software

When it comes to choosing the perfect accounting software for your freelance accounting and bookkeeping business in Australia, QuickBooks is a great option. 

It provides a user-friendly platform that is accessible and secure as it operates through the cloud. Here are some compelling reasons why you should go for QuickBooks Online:

Convenient Cloud-Based Approach - With QuickBooks Online, you and your clients can access financial records from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. This cloud-based system ensures that your data is always available when and where you need it, making collaboration more efficient.

Recognised and Trusted - QuickBooks Online is trusted by accounting professionals worldwide due to its recognition and adherence to industry standards. It meets all the rigorous requirements set by authorities in the field, ensuring reliability and compliance with Australian financial regulations.

Real-Time Collaboration - QuickBooks Online facilitates seamless real-time collaboration. You can work together with your clients effortlessly, reviewing and adjusting financial records simultaneously. This feature promotes effective communication and reduces delays in managing finances.

Sign Up For QuickBooks Today

QuickBooks is a dependable and accessible platform with excellent real-time collaboration capabilities. You can use QuickBooks to automate your workload and provide accurate financial advice for your clients.

Sign up for QuickBooks Online here and turn your freelancing dreams into a reality.

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